It always amuses me when people start claiming some idea they have is cutting edge or a new trend. Invariably, it’s just a variation on an old idea. Such is the case these days with companies advocating open office designs, that is, putting all their workers in one big room with no individual offices.
Everyone is equal and everyone can co-operate more easily in such an open setting, the corporate think goes. Such arrangements also save a lot of money on space build-out and rents. No walls means more space to cram in people, after all.
I find an open office dehumanizing and counter-productive, reducing white-collar workers to factory floor-like status where all of us are just cogs in a giant corporate machine. Obviously, I’m not going to stop the trend, it will likely continue in this era of endless cost-cutting and companies thinking that lower costs somehow mean they’re growing.
Jobs are so tough to get, it’s unlikely anyone will turn down a job because of an open office. But next time someone tries to tell you it’s a new concept, show them this photo I found of the open office circa the 1920s. It’s not a new idea nor is it cutting edge.
John N. Frank